Penn EM. From Many, One: State representation and the construction of an American national identity. 2008.
Abstract:I present a formal model of the effect that representation can have on the formation of group identities using the debates over the drafting of the United States Constitution as a case study. I first show the presence of “factions,” or groups with competing interests, to be beneficial in forging a national identity. Next, I use this model to argue that the Great Compromise succeeded asmore than a political maneuver to ensure ratification of the Constitution; it created a political environment in which an American national identity could emerge. More generally, I find that representation schemes that ignore group distinctions and use the individual as the basic unit of political representation may induce individuals to embrace a group-based notion of identity. Conversely, acknowledging group distinctions by using the group as a unit of political representation may induce individuals to embrace a more universalistic conception of identity, and thus may make group distinctions less salient.